Manitoba gearing up for COVID-19 ‘super-site’ vaccine campaign

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s premier said the province has enough supplies to give every Manitoban two doses of the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine, but said the federal government’s proposed rollout of the vaccine puts Manitobans at the back of the line.

On Thursday, Premier Brian Pallister announced the province is preparing to launch a COVID-19 ‘super-site’ vaccine campaign and pledged that over time the vaccine would be available to every Manitoban who wants it.

“We are getting ready,” Pallister said, adding part of this plan is going to focus on bringing people to vaccination sites to maximize capacity.

“In other words, to get as many of you vaccinated as quickly as we can.”

He said the province has installed a specialized freezer that can safely store one of the vaccines at -80 Celsius. Pallister said another four freezers are on the way, altogether having the capacity to hold one million doses.

Pallister said the province is also looking to create a specialized course on delivering vaccines so more people will be able to help handle the surge of Manitobans looking to roll up their sleeves and get the shot.

While the vaccine will not be mandatory, Pallister said he hopes to appeal to Manitobans “common sense” to get the vaccine.

PALLISTER CRITICIZES FEDERAL PLAN FOR VACCINE ROLLOUT

With the province preparing for the rollout of the vaccine, Pallister criticized the federal government’s proposed plan to distribute the vaccine.

“The federal government’s allocation approach is going to hurt Manitoba, and it’s going to put Manitobans at a disadvantaged position.”

Pallister said the federal government has told the province it plans to allocate vaccines on a per capita basis and will be holding back a portion of Manitoba’s allotment of vaccines for Indigenous and First Nation communities.

“What that would mean then is that Manitobans who do not live in northern Indigenous communities would be the least likely to get a vaccine in the country,” he said.

Pallister called on the federal government to provide additional vaccines to be used in Manitoba’s Indigenous communities first, instead of removing them from Manitoba’s total allotment of vaccines. He said he plans to meet with Manitoba Indigenous leaders next week to discuss the issue.

“I want to be clear on this—we want all our citizens to have a fair chance to get the vaccine as early as they possibly can,” he said, adding it highlights the need for a national strategy to provide more clarity for the allotment and distribution of the vaccine to Indigenous people across Canada.

“Unfortunately, the rate of infection among Indigenous Manitobans is higher than it is among non-Indigenous people,” he said. “So we believe it’s of critical importance to get that vaccine to our northern communities, to Indigenous people there to protect them.”

CTV News has reached out to the Public Health Agency of Canada and Indigenous Services Canada for comment.

This is a developing story. More to come.

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